Phrase Shift Review

Phrase Shift Review

Jun 27, 2016

Phrase Shift is a peaceful game that manages to tease the brain and calm it simultaneously. The gentle blue motif is inviting that way, and the simple implementation of extra colors can’t be faulted.

It comes in three difficulty levels, all aptly named: Easy, Medium and Difficult.

The concept is deceptively simple. Each level is a self-contained puzzle; the phrase is built on words made from individual letter boxes, and each word has its own line. The idea is to read and comprehend the puzzle phrase, figure out the single word solution, and then create said word vertically by sliding the consisting hind words till the word is created.

The trick, obviously, is in finding the right answer. One has to know what to look for, and the way the puzzles are set up generally precludes guessing except for the simplest phrase puzzles in the easiest mode. Knowing how to spell is definitely a plus as well, because completion of a level is the key to a subsequent one.

phrase3

When the right answer is selected, the word is highlighted in yellow, and one can move onto the next puzzle, and so on. For answers that are not immediately obvious, one can use a hint button to highlight one correct letter, and from there, one can hopefully glean the right answer.

The different difficulty levels are appropriately stocked, too.

The brilliance of the game lies in the quality of the puzzles and the way the words are laid out. The phrases themselves are easy to understand, and, depending on the level one is playing in, not easy to guess. Conversely, it takes a bit of doing to select the right bank of hint words, such that they contain letters that eventually can be borrowed from to build the right answer.

It is interesting fare, really; the puzzles are creative, and have a crossword feel to them. While the game is a lot of the same, the game seems especially suited to furtive batch play, and can serve as a brain soother.

Not bad for a self-contained, premium-priced game.

Monkey Wrench Review

Monkey Wrench Review

Feb 25, 2016

Hey, we told y’all we’d be keeping an eye on Monkey Wrench.

The game reveals itself, at its core, to be a word game. It appears and is played in portrait orientation, and makes use of sparse, deliberate coloring to create a simple play interface that is easy to cotton to visually. The main playing area is similar to a beehive of compartments with seemingly jumbled letters, and the main idea is to find words therein by tracing words out of adjacent letters

As noted, finding words is a major element, but the game manages to add a few more, such that it incorporates a feel ofmw3 crossword puzzles in addition to basic word search. It is leveled in nature and comes in three modes: easy, normal and hard. Each mode tweaks the gameplay in a different way, such that playing in any almost creates a new game within the main one.

Take “easy” for instance. In the one (which is perfect as an added component to the built-in tutorial), one is given several words broken into a few categories. The words can be names, compound words or even phrases, like movie names and such. All one has to do is find the words in the grid, starting with one of the special highlighted “start” letters, while avoiding other start letters. When a word or phrase is found and correctly highlighted by gesture and tapping, the entire block disappears; the idea is to clear every cell on the board.

When one goes and selects the “normal” level of gameplay, it gets a bit harder. Now, one gets the categories of words, but instead of all the hints written out, one only gets the first letter(s) of the words/phrases plus empty spaces that let one know how many letters one needs.

Ah.

Then, in “hard” mode, one gets only empty spots and categories only. Bummer.

So, as one gets a bit better, one can use guesses to help, as well as the process of elimination. One can use hints provided by the game, but these are limited (extras can be had for extra cash). It is pretty fun and surprisingly engaging.

The method of selecting words could probably be tweaked a bit to make it easier to back up a step or two, but altogether, the good definitely outweighs any perceived shortcomings.

By far.

Monkey Wrench Due Out on Android this Month

Monkey Wrench Due Out on Android this Month

Feb 2, 2016

Monkey Wrench is a fun word game that has been making the rounds on iOS; we hear that it is slated to arrive on Google Play very, very soon.

This month, as a matter of fact.

Per the official press kit:

Monkey Wrench is a word search with a twist from the same brains that brought you 7 Little Words, Red Herring and Moxie. Presented with category names and three levels of clues, the puzzle solver must determine what the solution words are – and then trace their twisty paths around the game board.

At launch, Monkey Wrench contains a free pack (named “Coconuts”) of 50 puzzles and 7 additional packs, including 2 Super Value packs, with a total of 1000 available puzzles. Monkey Wrench also contains a free Daily Puzzle.

Due date is February 18th. We’ll be waiting.

The trailer is below:

[via Blue Ox Press Kit]

AlphaBetty Saga Review

AlphaBetty Saga Review

Jun 22, 2015

Yes, AlphaBetty Saga is a word game, but clearly wants folks to know it is more than simply that; it packs in elements across the board, from Scrabble, word search, matching, and even a lit bit of Tetris-y gravity play… and then some. It does a lot, which helps it come out the gate strong.

At first glance, it’s easy to see developer King’s handprint on the visuals. The game employs bright colors and graphics that lean towards the whimsical without necessarily stumbling into the cartoonish. As a word game, it relies heavily on tiles, but the developer isn’t so jaded as to forget splashing character into the background. It’s a vivid presentation, and it mostly works in the plying area, which usually consists of random word tiles.

The gameplay, as noted, is a conglomeration of concepts. The core concept is the word search using tiles that hearken to word formation games. Using gestures, one can “dissolve” tiles by forming letters with them; the forming rules are fairly liberal, and one slide forwards, backwards and diagonally, and even cross each other. As long as the stream is connected by adjacent letters and it is a recognized word, it’ll probably count. When a word is made, the letters used to form it disappear, and. the resulting gaps are filled by randomized cascading new tiles. As one would expect, longer words are good, and it’s possible to earn power-ups and to make use of the occasional special tile that drops in.

as1

It’s around this cornerstone a lot of the gameplay is built; the leveled gameplay has the player complete tasks like dropping an item or group of items from the top of the grid to the bottom, or popping a set number of special bubble tiles, using formed words. To up the ante, there is usually a set number of moves one can make per level, so strategizing becomes key. Each level is graded on a three-star system.

Added all together, it makes for a relatively engaging experience. There is an energy requirement, but it can be alleviated by prior success or real money.

When it’s all said and done, AlphaBetty Saga is a cool journey that is easy to pickup and consume in tailored gulps, and that’s why it’d probably a safe bet to try.

Amusing Mind Brings New Game Letter Way to Android

Amusing Mind Brings New Game Letter Way to Android

Feb 4, 2015

Amusing Mind has a new title out on Android called Letter Mind.

The new word game whose unique concept will make you addicted!

A simple and catchy principle: play words to reveal adjacent hidden tiles. Make good use of the settled letters to solve each level, with the given number of words.

Letter Way is a fun game, requiring tactic, vocabulary and strategy.

Raise the challenge and find your way in dozens of puzzles!

Letter Way is available for free (with optional in-app purchases) on the Play Store.

Word Puttz Review

Word Puttz Review

Mar 5, 2014

Word games come a dime a dozen on Android, and thus, it takes a decent game to make headway. Gotta tell you, with the elements Word Puttz brings to the table, it might just have more than a passing flirtation with success.

At first blush, it reads like one’s run-of-the mill crossword puzzle, except for the limited area. But the first glance is deceptive, and leaves one wondering how word search, scrabble and putt-putt (yes, people, the mini-golf game) get added to the mix.

The game uses spoon-fed tutorials to highlight the game play at pertinent points. The playing area is made up of squared grid, with a golf-style cup at one end. The most prominent element is the word search; using the tray of sevenwordfi letters that are replenished as they are used, words have to be constructed using a placed start letter, with the end goal being using crossword strategies to create a word that crosses over the aforementioned cup. No diagonal constructions are allowed; one has to go down or across.

To add to the challenge, words created score points, and each letter tile has assigned points that resemble Scrabble scoring; for example, a worth with a “J” in it is of high premium. The Scrabble element introduces the possibility of using strategy, as general rules of that game are observed, like the creation of combo words. it is also possible to “dance” around the cup while trying to earn more points, as points control the assignation of level measuring stars à la Angry Birds. There is a tile exchanger, “hintz” and reversal button, and real cash can be used to stock up on some of the boosts, including wildcard “octo-balls.”

As the game progresses through the higher levels, more challenges are thrown at the player: optional gold coins that can be crossed over for bonus points, point thresholds to open the cup, the need to spell backwards and even a race to the cup versus the game UI. Just when one suspects the gameplay might get a bit too monotonous, the developer adds in some flair.

While the game is an all-rounder of sorts, I did wish the challenge level rose faster. An optional means of shutting down ads apart from real cash might have been nice, even if it was hard to do.

Still, this is a fun free-to-play game, and one that I spent a bit too long “trying” out.

Lost Words Review

Lost Words Review

Feb 18, 2014

Word games can be hit or miss; Lost Words is one which attempts to liven up the best parts of the genre.

The gameplay comes in two flavors, Classic and Arcade mode. Each mode is further broken into four levels of difficulty: Kid, Easy, Normal and Hard. For the most part, the game is the same in both modes; the playing area consists of word blocks stacked six high and representative of the six tries one gets to solve the word. The width, which is the length of the word, varies by level and is generally longer with tougher difficulty.

The general premise runs thus: there is a word, with maybe a starting letter given as a hint piece. The goal is to guess the word in the least number of tries. When a wrong word is guessed, the game automatically looks to see if a letter from the right word is there. If there is one or more, it will highlight it in green if it is in the right lost1place, the game engine retains it on the next line in said correct spot. If it is not in the right position, it will be highlighted in burnt orange on the built-in keyboard.

To visualize this, if the game asks to solve a five-letter world starting with G (lets say GLOAT). If the first guess is, say, GOALS, the game retains the G in green, and highlights the O and A in burnt orange, so the player knows those words are in the word, just in the wrong place. If the next guess is GLOWS, the game would retain and highlight in green the G, L and O.

Thus, in this way, via guesses and process of elimination, the word can hopefully be discovered. Points are assigned for correct guesses, with bonus points and game coins assigned depending on how early in the cycle the word is guessed. In Arcade mode, there are helpers that can be purchased to help solve the words, like a guessing tool. There is also a spinner which, when tapped, spits out a random helper or obstacle. Missing the word ends the run.

I think the game mechanism could use more polish; while it might be a deliberate design decision, I don’t like the fact that there isn’t a way to play around with the known letters. The game might feel a little bland as well.

In any case, it is a decent game, with fun gameplay, and can be the perfect time waster.

Wordcraft Review

Wordcraft Review

Sep 12, 2013

Wordcraft is a combo word game from Littlebigplay.

The game is an interesting mix of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles. The playing area is a rectangular grid made up of squared letter tiles set up in 8×13 fashion. The letters are random, and contain all the letter of the alphabet with varying probabilities. As in Scrabble, each letter has a number value that seems to be based on the use of the letter in the English language. Thus, E, T and A have the lowest values, and K, X, Q, J and Z have high values.

Also, there are specially colored bonus tiles: orange denotes a triple word score, green gives a double word and word1purple scores a triple letter. When combined, the multipliers work on each other.

The basic premise is to form words via adjacent tiles. Starting with the first letter, tapping and dragging through the letters forms the word for points. The rules governing movement are cool, and the white highlight line underscores this. Forwards, backwards, diagonal… and then some. It is possible to zig-zag across back over, go up and then down, and more. As long as the successive letters in the word attempted are adjacent and a used tile is not used more than once, a word can score points — as long as it a “real” word. Slick use of the bonus tiles can lead to huge point hauls. There are some tricks to learn, too. Making words with four or more words makes all those tiles get replaced, thereby giving one the opportunity to score more in theory. Otherwise, the letters are gradually depleted.

The game comes in in three modes. There is the “classic” mode, that keeps on going until the there are no more moves to be made; A “fastgame” mode that is dependent on a set number of moves, and a “limited” version that challenges one to rack up as many points as possible in exactly five minutes. The interface is clean, mostly minimalist, with a recording of the high score. Options include the ability to change the color of the tiles.

Classic mode, in my opinion, is almost too relaxed; I prefer the restricted modes. Still, the option to pick modes is welcome.

This is the perfect game to get lost in, and is fun on a social level.

Jawfish Words Review

Jawfish Words Review

Jul 17, 2013

Jawfish Words is a speedy word-based offering from Jawfish Games that uses the need for speed and random competition as the main foils.

Calling the gameplay “fast” is an understatement. It’s easy enough to dive right into, but boy… it flies. First, I got to pick a room to play in. There were several, offering match-ups between players in groups of two all the way to sixteen.Counters show the progress of the room filling up, and when the room is filled, the screen moves to prep the players therein for play.words5

After all the competition is set, the screen flips to allow selection of boosts, as well as a list of game-centric goals. The boosts are power-ups that help increase the points output in the round; things like the ability to flip the board and change perspective and a five second head start. Above this selection area are the goals… like finding tive-letter words or finding words ending with a particular letter. After this selection, the battle begins.

The letters are set in a square grid in 5×5 tiles reminiscent of Scrabble playing pieces. Each has a score value assigned. Starting at “GO!” the job is to find as many 3+-letter words as possible by tracing through adjacent tiles. Each word created scores points, and it is all done against a countdown clock. Good words are shown accepted by a green line, and gibberish earns red. Diagonals and longer words are clearly valuable, as are game-defined “rare words.”

At the end of the countdown timer, the game lists out relative positioning with regards specific data points, like aforementioned rare words and first finds. It then spits out an overall position in the field, and offers experience points.

The first boost is free; subsequent ones cost five tokens each (up to three total). Good finishes do seem to preclude any need to use the in-amp purchasing to supplement tokens, which is a huge plus.

Even though it was straightforward, and there is a good deal of info for newbies, I would have liked a more dynamic tutorial. Also, a more animated tally of scoring would be welcome; maybe even an interactive score board showing relative scores.

All in all, I love this game. It’s fun, it works the brain, and is quick to the point.

Word Off Review

Word Off Review

May 4, 2012

Toy Studio’s new word game Word Off is a game with two hooks: one, it’s designed to have the feel of more of a strategy game with direct conflict, and it’s designed to be multiplatform.

Players alternate turns on a board, forming words from letters in their territory or in unoccupied tiles. The goal is to try and get as many points from formed words, or to conquer the opponent’s base tile. Maches are formed from adjacent hexagonal tiles, with no overlapping. Players can spend their coins on boosts that can be used to grant special advantages, but they are limited to 3 per games.

The game is perfectly multiplatform, with it being developed in HTML5. All versions of the game are the same, and can actually all easily use the same account to log in, whether it be via Facebook or via proprietary account. I’ve played games using the same account on iOS, Android, and web browser.

The game does seem a bit ludicrous with its in-app purchases: coins cost quite a bit, at $4.99 for 40 coins. New board layouts cost upwards of 90 coins. While coins are earned after each game, it still might take a few games in order to even unlock one new board; this is excluding any boost usage as well. Players looking to pick this up long-term should not expect to get a free ride for very long.

The drawback of the HTML5 interface is that with Word Off, it’s not particularly designed to fill the screen. It appears to be designed for the 960×640 resolution of the iPhone Retina Display, and it is displayed centered on every other display. This means on tablets that there is plenty of black space around the game board.

The games are fairly short; I haven’t seen a base conquered yet, and it seems like either a terribly bad stroke of luck combined with skillful play from one player is the only way that it would happen. The option for longer games would allow for some interesting strategies to come in to play.

Word Off has its issues, but the technological achievement is fairly impressive. It’s definitely worth checking out for at least that aspect alone, as they absolutely nailed it. Some other tweaks to pacing and pricing could help smooth out the bumps in the road with the game.

Words With Friends Finally Hits Android

Words With Friends Finally Hits Android

Feb 15, 2011

One of iOS’s biggest games has been Words With Friends. The Scrabble-inspired word game, developed by Newtoy, has been successful enough that it has been a perennial top selling app on the iPhone App Store, including reaching back up to #5 this past week as the Verizon iPhone 4 released. Newtoy has become successful enough because of the game to have collaborated with major mobile publisher ngmoco:) on social farming game We Rule (which has become a lucrative franchise for ngmoco:) on iOS), and this past year, Newtoy was acquired by social gaming giant Zynga, of Farmville fame. A big impetus for this acquisition is to get Words With Friends outside of the confines of iOS, as Words With Friends is now available on Android.